Thank you Ron Johnson, for your comforting words!
Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin took an opportunity to try to put things in perspective for his Wisconsin constituents in a USA Today opinion piece. In less than 350 words, he tried to explain no public official is calling for a complete reopening of the U.S. economy, rather, we should try to put things in perspective and try a common-sense approach.
He thinks we don’t need to be shutting down almost the entire economy. Johnson explained the societal costs of an indefinitely closed economy are not in America’s best interest.
He went further to list statistics stating approximately 48,000 Americans commit suicide and an estimated 67,000 die of a drug overdose each year despite a strong economy. How dare they ignore economic advances!
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He tried to communicate the possibility of these statistics getting worse because of the serious potential for an economic downturn. It’s very thoughtful of him to think of the possible increase in suicide and overdose rates over the course of this pandemic, but we are concerned about deaths by the hundreds of thousands. That is what we’re trying to prevent. Of course, it isn’t hard to imagine the mental health consequences for those in quarantine who will lose their jobs and probably their health insurance during this horrible time. If only we had a system that ensured everyone was insured …
Johnson later said “death is an unavoidable part of life,” detailing that 2.8 million people die every year, then posing the question of whether or not we could imagine the panic if mortality statistics were attributed to a new virus and reported nonstop.
Where has he been the last month?
He agrees social distancing “makes sense” and should continue until the outbreak is under control, thankfully. But he wants to open businesses again. To help the economy, Johnson thinks it is in America’s best interest to make a list of unessential businesses to close, rather than announcing general shut-downs and making a list of essential businesses to remain open. He had the bright idea that to provide life’s basic necessities, much of the American economy must stay open.
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As far as I’m concerned, Johnson, that is exactly what we are doing. Whether or not we make a list of essential or nonessential businesses first, we must only keep open what is necessary for people, which we are doing.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is getting heat for not issuing a general shut down sooner. Other states such as Alabama still haven’t issued a shutdown order, and now are faced with stories like the group of UW students who went on spring break trips to Tennessee and Alabama and came back testing positive for the virus. But we don’t want general shutdowns, right Johnson?
Lastly, it should be clear to the UW campus, surrounding Madison area, and of course, the state of Wisconsin, Johnson called for providing “financial support [to] employees, and the businesses or organizations themselves, so they can reopen and rehire,” while not two weeks before being one of eight senators to vote against the $8 billion temporary relief package signed March 18.
If the $2 trillion stimulus package was “less-than-perfect,” is he referring to the billions in corporate bailout, the fact that millions of students across the country can’t pay rent because they don’t get $1,200 in relief money or was he referring to his distaste for the amount of money that is being distributed in the first place? It seems like the latter.
Mr. Johnson, you aimed to “put things into perspective” for Wisconsinites, your constituents. Instead, you showed us it doesn’t bother you the best-case-scenario for this virus is at least 100,000 deaths. You showed us what bothers you is the future of the economy.
Though, the state of the economy shouldn’t be an issue for him anymore. It was reported Johnson already sold anywhere between $5 million and $25 million in stocks at the beginning of March. He is the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee and was told about the ramifications of the virus in closed-door briefs from Trump-administration officials.
Johnson, when you are up for reelection in 2022, we will remember you voted against financial relief for Wisconsinites in these troubling, horrific times and you handed us several reasons to vote you out on a silver platter.
Kaitlin Kons ([email protected]) is a sophomore studying political science and public policy.